Social Media

Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Guatemalan Tamales Recipe

Photos of Guatemalan Tamales Recipe


Unlike their Mexican counterparts, Guatemalan tamales are larger and are wrapped in banana leaves. This recipe uses pork and roasted peppers.

Prep: 1 hr
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs


For Salsa Colorada:

  • lb tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 guajillo chiles
  • 2 fl oz pumpkin seeds
  • 2 fl oz sesame seeds
  • 1 cinnamon, small stick
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp achiote powder, (annatto)
  • 1 fl oz lard
  • 1 lb lean pork, cut into strips

For Masa:

  • 3 cup masa harina
  • 6 cup water, or broth
  • ½ cup lard, or butter
  • 2 tsp salt

For Fillings:

  • green olives, sliced
  • capers
  • bell pepper, thin slices, roasted, peeled
  • raisins
  • banana leaves, about 2 pounds, and/or aluminum foil sheets


  1. Make the salsa first. Place tomatoes and garlic all on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes or until very roasted.

  2. Toast the dried chiles on a heavy skillet for a few seconds until fragrant. Cut out stems, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.

  3. In the same dry skillet, toast the seeds and cinnamon stick for a few seconds until nutty. Put into blender container.
  4. Pulse a few times to make a coarse powder.
  5. Now add the roasted tomatoes and garlic, soaked chiles (discard the soaking liquid) and half a cup of the chicken broth. Blend. Add more broth if necessary to make a thick, smooth salsa. It should be about the consistency of a milkshake.
  6. Strain through a fine sieve and put into a pot with the meat strips and simmer about 15 minutes (or longer if desired) to cook the pork

  7. For the masa, combine the masa harina and water in a large pot. Use a whisk to remove lumps. Bring to boil, stirring, then simmer 10 minutes until thickened.

  8. Add the lard, oil, and salt. Stir and cook over low heat another 10 minutes. It should be about the consistency of porridge. Set aside.

  9. Cut the banana leaves into squares about 12×8 inches. Bring a large, wide pot of water to boil and blanch the leaves one at a time for about 45 seconds each. Use tongs to help get them completely immersed in the water. Stack on a plate and cover with a damp cloth.

To Assemble:

  1. Lay a banana leaf on a clean flat surface. Plop about ¾ cup masa into the center of it. Top that with about ¼ cup of the salsa and a piece of pork. Arrange any other fillings desired in the center of the masa and spoon a little more salsa over the top.

  2. Fold the side closest to you over the masa, and bring the side farthest from you towards yourself so that you end up with a long, skinny rectangle.

  3. Fold one long end under, then pick up the package like an ice cream cone and give it a little tap to get filling settled. Fold other long end over. Set aside. (If banana leaf cracks, wrap the package in a sheet of foil.)

  4. Line a very large pot with the imperfect banana leaves and add about an inch of water. Stack tamales inside, seams down.
  5. Cover tightly and steam for 1½ hours.

  6. Cool and serve.


  • Sugar: 2g
  • :
  • Calcium: 91mg
  • Calories: 191kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Cholesterol: 22mg
  • Fat: 6g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g
  • Potassium: 398mg
  • Protein: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 716mg
  • Trans Fat: 1g
  • Vitamin A: 658IU
  • Vitamin C: 7mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Want to share your own take on this Guatemalan tamales recipe or discuss other traditional Latin American dishes? Join the conversation in the World Cuisines forum section!

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!